publication date: Apr. 14, 2017

U.S. cancer costs add up to $87.8 billion; Patients pay $4 billion out-of-pocket

Cancer patients in the U.S. paid nearly $4 billion in out-of-pocket costs in 2014 and the disease cost the country $87.8 billion in cancer-related health care spending, a report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network found.

The ACS CAN study focuses on the costs for three of the most common cancers—breast, lung and colorectal; under three types of insurance—employer-sponsored, Medicare and an individual exchange plan.

The total patient costs, including premiums, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance, range from nearly $6,000 a year on an employer-sponsored plan to a little more than $10,000 on an exchange plan. Most of these costs accrue right as a person is diagnosed, leaving patients with significant payments due in a short amount of time.

Key findings include:

A lower-premium insurance plan may not actually save cancer patients money in the long run. Such plans often have high-cost sharing and cancer patients are high utilizers of care.

Even with insurance, cancer patients often face unpredictable or unmanageable costs including high co-insurance, high deductibles, having to seek out-of-network care, and needing a treatment that is not covered by their plan.

Limits on out-of-pocket costs significantly lowered patients’ expenses in two of the three insurance scenarios. Without these limits, patients’ costs would have sky-rocketed.

“This report makes clear the importance of insurance coverage, but also offers insight into the extent even insured patients struggle to afford treatment,” Chris Hansen, ACS CAN president, said in a statement. “If we are going to continue reducing cancer-related death and suffering, we must ensure that these patients and … Continue reading U.S. cancer costs add up to $87.8 billion; Patients pay $4 billion out-of-pocket

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Copyright (c) 2020 The Cancer Letter Inc.